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  Publicity Stills of
"Away From Her"
(Courtesy from Cathay-Keris Films)

Genre: Drama/Romance
Director: Sarah Polley
Cast: Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent, Olympia Dukakis
Runtime: 1 hr 50 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.memory-catcher.net/

Opening Day: 31 January 2008 at THE PICTUREHOUSE


Sometimes you have to let go of what you cant live without...Married for almost 50 years, Grant and Fiona's commitment to each other appears unwavering. Their daily life is filled with tenderness and humor; yet this serenity is broken by Fiona's increasingly evident memory loss and her restrained references to a past betrayal. For a while, the couple is able to causally dismiss these unwelcome changes. But when neither Fiona nor her husband can deny any longer that she is being consumed by Alzheimer's disease, the couple is forced to wrenchingly redefine the limits of their love and loyalty and face the complex, inevitable transition from lovers to strangers.

Movie Review:

It is convenient to make a tearjerker when you are dealing with a topic like Alzheimer’s disease. Imagine all the explosive emotional scenes you can get your protagonist to do. But Canadian actress-director Sarah Polley chose a different approach for her debut feature film – instead of having her characters shoving their tears in your face in the most dramatic ways, she has them acting in the most honest manners, like the many people around you and me.

The result is a cinematic experience so quietly moving, it’s like watching life unfolding before you.

Based on a 1999 short story “The Bear Came over the Mountain” by Alice Munro, this film tells the story of Grant and Fiona, a couple who has been married for 44 years. Fiona develops Alzheimer’s disease and begins to forget things, and it is decided that she moves into a nursing home, which forbids visitors during the patient’s first month stay. After being together for over 40 years, a one month separation proves to be too painful for Grant. What becomes more devastating for the old man is that his wife seems to have forgotten him during his first visit to the nursing home.

This is clearly a film that does not need any melodramatic moments to captivate you – the only things that you will be watching out for are the cast’s wonderful performances. Getting critical acclaim everywhere is veteran actress Julie Christie (Troy, Finding Neverland). The British movie legend plays Fiona with such delicate grace; it’ll grip you right from the start. The 66-year-old Oscar winner touches your heart with her restrainedly believable portrayal woman who is on the brink of love and loss. Complementing this fine actress’s beautiful performance is lesser-known Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent’s portrayal of Grant. The writer-actor makes you empathize with his character’s painful and hurting emotional journey as he prepares to see his wife’s memory fade away. And when she seemingly falls for another patient at the nursing home, it takes a competent actor like Pinsent to bring out the heartache and sorrow without being over-the-top.

Of course, credit also goes to director Polley, who skillfully brings out the best of her actors to tell a story of love, loss and memories. The storyteller had penned the script herself, and it’s evident that she has put her heart and soul into the writing, making the movie so thoughtful and heartening.

Before you think that this film is all despair and desolation, you will be pleasantly surprised by the many humorous moments sprinkled within the 110-minute picture. Listen out for the various wisecracks and one-liners throughout the movie. You’d be cold-hearted not to chuckle at these intelligently-written lines.

This is not a film you watch for entertainment. It also is not a movie you watch for nerve-wrecking plot twists. And it is definitely not a movie you watch to feel dejected and depressed. It is, however, a movie you watch to get a slice of life as depicted on the big screen by some of the best actors we have today.

Movie Rating:

(A sensitive piece of work that shines with its cast’s excellent performances)

Review by John Li


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